Diversity Makes History in Michigan

January 4, 2023 by Natalie McCormick
Diversity Makes History in Michigan
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the crowd during inauguration ceremonies, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

LANSING, Mich. — It was a turn of events that simply demanded one sit up and take notice.

On Sunday morning, Jan. 1, Chad Livengood, politics editor and columnist at The Detroit News, tweeted, “As of this morning, there are no white men in Michigan’s highest-ranking posts in state government. 

“Women hold five of the top seven: governor, attorney general, secretary of state, Senate majority leader, and Supreme Court chief justice. Black men hold the other two: lieutenant governor and House speaker,” he wrote.

Earlier in the day, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was sworn in for her second term as Michigan’s governor. Although she is the 49th governor of the state, she is only the second female to hold this position. 

At the top of the list for her second term, Whitmer said she is focusing on climate change, making investments in education, lowering taxes on senior citizens and gun reform, according to The Detroit News. 

During her speech on Sunday, she spoke about bipartisanship and wanting to work with Republicans to make a better Michigan over the course of the next four years. 

Attorney General Dana Nessel was also sworn in on New Year’s Day for a second term. Nessel is the 54th attorney general of the state and the second female to hold this position.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was also sworn in for a second term on Sunday. 

The newly elected Senate majority leader, Winnie Brinks, is the first woman to ever hold this office. The last Democrat to be the leader of the Senate was William Faust in 1984. During her swearing in speech, she stressed the importance of bipartisanship in the state Senate and working together. 

In November, the Michigan Supreme Court unanimously voted for Elizabeth T. Clement to be the new chief justice. This decision came after former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack announced her retirement plans in September. 

“I appreciate the confidence of my colleagues and I look forward to the opportunity to serve as chief justice, working collaboratively with all stakeholders in the judicial system for the benefit of the public,” Clement said. 

“We thank Justice McCormack for her leadership … and for her service to the people of Michigan for the past 10 years,” she continued. 

Clement joined the Michigan Supreme Court in 2017 when she was appointed by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. In 2018, she won a full, eight-year term. 

Also being sworn in was Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II. He assumed this position in 2019 when Whitmer was first elected. Gilchrist is the first African American to hold this position in Michigan. 

Upon being sworn in, Gilchrist tweeted, “Our pledge is as simple as it is profound: we will serve and support the success of every Michigander. Every educator and engineer. Every artist and entrepreneur. Every steelworker and farmer. Every parent and child. Know that your success is Michigan’s success.” 

Newly elected House Speaker Joe Tate is the first Black state House speaker in Michigan’s history. He believes that Democrats will be a united front on common issues that are posed to Michigan’s government. 

You can reach us at [email protected]

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